GLOSS ON THE COMING OF AUTUMN

The body does not wait. Neither for us
nor for love. This groping of hands,
researching with such reticence
the warm, silky aridness
that twitches from embarrassment
in movements quick and random;
this groping attended not by us
but by a thirst, a memory, whatever
we know about touching the bared
body that does not wait; this groping
that doesn’t know, doesn’t see, doesn’t
dare to be afraid of feeling scared…

The body’s so hasty! All is over and done
when one of us, or when love, has come.

Translation: 1997, Richard Zenith

 

GLOSA À CHEGADA DO OUTONO
O corpo não espera. Não. Por nós
ou pelo amor. Este pousar de mãos,
tão reticente e que interroga a sós
a tépida secura acetinada,
a que palpita por adivinhada
em solitários movimentos vãos;
este pousar em que não estamos nós,
mas uma sede, uma memória, tudo
o que sabemos de tocar desnudo
o corpo que não espera: este pousar
que não conhece, nada vê, nem nada
ousa temer no seu temor agudo…Tem tanta pressa o corpo! E já passou,
quando um de nós ou quando o amor chegou.

© 1958, Jorge de Sena
From: Fidelidade
Publisher: Edições 70, Lisboa, 1988
Photo: Urbino, April 2018

A haze

I have in me like a haze
Which holds and which is nothing
A nostalgia for nothing at all,
The desire for something vague.

I’m wrapped by it
As by a fog, and I see
The final star shining
Above the stub in my ashtray.

I smoked my life. How uncertain
All I saw or read! All
The world is a great open book
That smiles at me in an unknown tongue


Tenho em mim como uma bruma
Que nada é nem contém
A saudade de coisa nenhuma,
O desejo de qualquer bem.

Sou envolvido por ela
Como por um nevoeiro
E vejo luzir a última estrela
Por cima da ponta do meu cinzeiro

Fumei a vida. Que incerto
Tudo quanto vi ou li!
E todo o mundo é um grande livro aberto
Que em ignorada língua me sorri.

Monday poetry comes on Wednesday because Fernando Pessoa was born on this day in Lisbon 130 years ago. 

Translation: 1998, Richard Zenith

Photo: crossing back to Porto, May 2018

Little things

Now, dear, it isn’t the bold things,
Great deeds of valour and might,
That count the most in the summing up of life at the end of the day.
But it is the doing of old things,
Small acts that are just and right;
And doing them over and over again, no matter what others say;
In smiling at fate, when you want to cry, and in keeping at work when

          you want to play—
Dear, those are the things that count.

And, dear, it isn’t the new ways
Where the wonder-seekers crowd
That lead us into the land of content, or help us to find our own.
But it is keeping to true ways,
Though the music is not so loud,
And there may be many a shadowed spot where we journey along

          alone;
In flinging a prayer at the face of fear, and in changing into a song a

          groan—
Dear, these are the things that count.

My dear, it isn’t the loud part
Of creeds that are pleasing to God,
Not the chant of a prayer, or the hum of a hymn, or a jubilant shout or

          song.
But it is the beautiful proud part
Of walking with feet faith-shod;
And in loving, loving, loving through all, no matter how things go

          wrong;
In trusting ever, though dark the day, and in keeping your hope when

          the way seems long—

Dear, these are the things that count.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox, The Things that Count

 

What I’ve failed to write

131 days ago life took a weird, sharp turn after a few months of my driving it erratically in and out of course. Because I am prone to think of my life as a movie or perhaps as a series of pilot episodes in shows that never get aired, I failed to realize that maybe real life was happening. And I have a problem with this. My mind anticipates all kinds of scenarios, dramatic dialogues and plot twists, failing to see what’s right in front of me, failing to hear Caetano‘s warning that life is after all real and skewed. I insist on other melodies, I insist on not getting tired of hoping that one day I will get to be everything.

My homeless heart
Wants to keep the world
In me

131 days ago we coincided in space and time; he told me I was making him travel, I didn’t realize he was making me come home. For once, life was not about being the rebel in a made up cause, it was not about coming up with the perfect character for the occasion, it was not about trying to be perfect, it was not about packing and going somewhere trying to find whatever is needed at the moment to feel more alive. It was about staying. I didn’t know that to stay took a special kind of courage. I have spent well over seven thousand days of my adult life being adventurously brave, going everywhere, doing everything, preferably on my own. Along the way I collected all the clichés of falling madly, deeply and foolishly in love, of getting married and divorced, of hurting and getting hurt and feeling that I have committed the worse sin my twelve years of Catholic, yet somewhat liberal, education helped me identify, I have wasted my time and have, of course, ended up being wasted by it. Staying, in the same way as getting older, is not for the faint of heart. Staying means you have to face life as it is not as you think it was meant to be.

131 days ago I begun to understand what years of fictional manipulation have done to me, how they have created the most unrealistic expectations and contributed to an almost complete emotional disarrangement. In the midst of my inability to deal with what was happening, I have read these wise words:

Your deepest beliefs about seduction were carefully crafted by high-capitalist strategists. Lust and fantasy are opiates of the masses, easily manipulated into shapes that human animals fall for, over and over again.

I have never really taken advice columns very seriously, probably because I tend to be a bit of a snob, but every single word Heather Havrilesky poured into her column of February 28, struck a chord and I understood that yes, it was really about surrendering to reality with no futile embellishments. And still, 131 days were not enough to learn that the assumptions one makes about one self and others are also created by all the nonsense around you and that they are not real. For 131 days I have promised myself, almost everyday, that I was not going to fall in that trap, I was going to let life get real because it might not be the most glamorous or exciting place to be but you have at least a chance of not seeing life disappear without getting to live it. But, self-sabotage is a powerful force, “a way of avoiding that moment of showing up, of facing potential loss, of being strong enough and courageous enough to surrender to the unknown — but also, to surrender to the goodness of ordinary human beings.” 131 days ago,  getting hurt living my fictional life was easy enough to deal with because fictional feelings tend to be overtly dramatic but shallow.

Getting hurt in real life gets you broken.

References

Caetano Veloso, O quereres, Coração Vagabundo

William Shakespeare, Richard II 

Bette Davis

Ask Polly